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A cancer patient's rights in the workplace

Cancer is a devastating disease and impacts millions of people every year. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 1.6 million people received a cancer diagnosis in 2016 with the most common types being breast, lung and prostate cancers. 

Cancer greatly impacts a person's ability to do certain work-related tasks. A patient may need to take more days off work to go to chemotherapy treatments or may require more breaks during the day to combat fatigue. People who receive a cancer diagnosis should know that employers cannot discriminate against them based on their diagnosis. Cancer patients have protections under federal law. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA protects many American citizens from discrimination in the workplace. Employers must make reasonable accommodations so that an individual with a medical condition can still perform his or her responsibilities. This includes employees who receive a cancer diagnosis while employed. The law states that a boss cannot demote a person based on a new condition. The only exception would be if the accommodation would place an undue hardship on the organization. However, allowing someone to work from home a couple of days out of the week due to fatigue is certainly reasonable. 

The Family and Medical Leave Act

People with cancer also have protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act. This law applies to any workplace that has at least 50 employees, and it protects individuals who have been at the company for at least one year. This law allows employees to take unpaid leave for as many as 12 weeks to deal with a medical situation. 

Interviewing with cancer

In the event someone receives the diagnosis while between jobs, he or she may worry about job prospects when going into interviews. By law, employers cannot ask an applicant about a medical situation. There is also no need to volunteer such information unless he or she feels the need to. 

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